This morning, as part of the Economic Support and Recovery Task Force, Mayor John Tory announced a 60-day grace period for City of Toronto property tax, water and solid waste utility bill payments for all residents and businesses. Late payment penalties for residential and business properties will be waived for 60 days, starting March 16, 2020 to reflect these relief measures. Utility bills (water and solid waste), are normally due 21 days after the billing date, but the City will extend that date an extra 60 days.
Mayor Tory and City of Toronto officials also announced further actions the municipal government is taking to help essential service workers with child care options, vulnerable residents such as seniors, people affected by untreated trauma, mental health and addictions, people in need of housing supports and emergency food access, and people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. de Villa, Chief Pegg and City Manager Chris Murray are holding daily news conferences at 3:45 p.m. to update us on the situation in Toronto. You can tune in on the City's YouTube channel here.
Support for Vulnerable Residents
To ensure that the needs of vulnerable residents are met during the COVID-19 emergency, the City is working in partnership with social service agencies to address issues that arise in the community service sector.
A City-Community Response Table meets daily and includes representatives from more than 30 agencies across Toronto and 11 City divisions. This group is working to identify new and emerging issues affecting vulnerable Torontonians during the COVID-19 emergency and to plan city-wide responses to address and resolve these issues, for example, food security and community resource needs.
The City is also partnering with community agencies like the United Way Greater Toronto to help agencies and groups communicate with each other so they can continue to do their important work of serving Torontonians as well as communicate with Councillors and other services providers. Toronto Aboriginal Social Services Council (TASSC) is also leading the coordinated Indigenous response and will collaborate with the City and United Way.
All long-term care homes continue to care for residents. For seniors not living in a long-term care home, Seniors Services and Long-Term Care continues to provide essential support services to seniors already enrolled in their Supportive Housing program with personal care, medication reminders, and safety checks. Many community agencies offer supports to seniors including Meals on Wheels, friendly visiting, transportation to appointments, personal support, and adult day programs. Seniors and caregivers should check with the individual agencies to confirm continuity of service delivery. Call 211 (available 24/7 in 150+ languages) to obtain up-to-date information.
Other resources for seniors include:
- Toronto Seniors Helpline:416-217-2077 or 1-877-621-2077, for support and referral to services
- Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) Home Care: 310-2222 (no area code required) to find out about services in their area
- Distress Centres of Toronto: 416-408-4357, 416-408-HELP
- Seniors Safety Line (Elder Abuse Ontario): 1-866-299-1011
Ensuring Access to Food with the Food Security Table
Access to food is a major issue for residents that live near or below the poverty line. Community food programs, which include food banks, are a vital part of our communities, especially in times of crisis. To ensure that Toronto’s food programs can stay open during the outbreak, the City has convened a Food Security Table (including Second Harvest, Daily Bread Food Bank, North York Harvest Food Bank and Red Cross) to receive updates and find solutions for food access issues.
The City is calling on all restaurants that are still providing take-out and delivery services and businesses that sell food to consider donating any type of unsold, good food through foodrescue.ca. Residents who are able are also encouraged to donate essentials to their local food bank.
Child Care for Essential and Core Service Workers
The City of Toronto is working with the province of Ontario to find ways to help health care workers and emergency responders and other essential workers with child care. We hope to have further updates on this shortly.
Volunteers to Help Deliver Essential Services
Non-profit agencies in the community services sector are also facing a shortage of volunteers to help with delivering essential services. The City is urging non-profit organizations and agencies to do the following to help facilitate connecting residents willing to volunteer to organizations and agencies who need the help:
- Update or add information about current operations to 211’s database
- Register volunteer needs through Spark Ontario and/or with Volunteer Toronto. Volunteer Toronto has waived the fee associated with posting volunteer positions.
Residents interested in volunteering should register with the above-mentioned websites to get alerts for volunteer opportunities (some of which may be remote), call Volunteer Toronto at 416-961-6888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with an advisor to discuss volunteer opportunities. Non-profit organizations and agencies’ staff are practicing infection prevention measures within their operations and volunteers would be required to do the same.
Although many places across Toronto have been closed due to social distancing measures, there are still social services supports available for residents in need. Through 211, operators can connect residents to income supports, distress lines, and mental health supports to name a few.
Live Chat: Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Keep Practicing Social Distancing
Today’s announcement further highlights how important it is that everyone who can continue the hard work of social distancing. This is the most effective way to stop the spread, flatten the curve and help save lives.
Limit, Postpone or Cancel Small Gatherings
- If you can, connect with friends by phone or online
- Keep children away from group settings including indoor playdates with other children
- Take a walk, go to the park, walk the dog
- Keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others and stay home when sick
- Greet others with a wave, a bow or a nod (in place of handshakes or hugs)
After going outside, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Cancel Non-Essential Trips
- Consider if outings are necessary
- No parties or playdates
For Essential Trips (e.g. groceries, work)
- Sanitize or wash your hands when entering and exiting buildings
- Avoid long lineups
- Use tap to pay rather than handling money
When taking public transit, avoid prolonged close contact with others:
- Travel during non-peak hours
- Take shorter trips rather than one long trip
Avoid Visits to Care Facilities
Protect vulnerable family members by avoiding visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes and other care settings unless it is absolutely essential
Consider Alternative Ways to Work
- Work from home, if feasible
- Facilitate virtual meetings (video or teleconferencing)
While you may not feel sick, we ask that you be mindful of those more vulnerable in our community. Thank you for your efforts to keep everyone healthy. We are all in this together.
Community Care in Ward 13
I would like to take the time to recognize the amazing volunteers at the Corktown Business and Residents Association who have been hard at work organizing and using their Facebook page to support neighbours in need, share resources and continue to promote local cafes and restaurants that are open for take-out and delivery. Thank you for helping keep the neighbourhood connected through these complex times! This is what community care looks like.
Please keep sending us examples of care in Ward 13! I’ll be happy to promote it, space permitting, in our communication to the residents and business owners in Ward 13.
Province of Ontario Updates
Today the Province of Ontario announced additional measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the correctional system to expand the use of temporary absences and for the Ontario Parole Board to use alternatives to in-person meetings.
The Province of Ontario is also extending the validity of government driver, vehicle, carrier products and services to help keep people safe and reduce the need for in-person visits to DriveTest centres.
For parents who are concerned about their children’s ongoing learning, the Province announce new measures for students through a new online portal Learn at Home. This new platform will provide resources for families so students can continue their education while schools are closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
Government of Canada Updates
Today, the Government of Canada announced new measures to directly support businesses to rapidly scale up production or re-tool their manufacturing lines to develop products made in Canada that will help in the fight against COVID-19. These products could include critical health and safety supplies and equipment, including personal protective equipment, sanitization products, diagnostic and testing products, and disease tracking technology. You can learn more about the plan here: Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry.
This is in addition to the $82 Billion announced on Wednesday. For anyone trying to access EI, it is important to note that the Government is also reporting a very high number of calls for EI so there might be a delay getting through. The government is reporting that new EI claims reached 500k this week, by far the most ever recorded.
If you can’t get through by phone, you can also access EI supports online by:
- Accessing it on your CRA MyAccount secure portal;
Accessing it from your secure My Service Canada Account;
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.